Mater Christi School began its service learning program in 1995, over 20 years ago. Each year, 7th and 8th grade students in groups of 4-6 students, accompanied by their teachers, do volunteer work at non-profit agencies such as St. Joseph’s Home, Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, COTS, King Street Youth Center, Spectrum, Burlington Boys and Girls Club, and Joseph’s House. On Monday, April 11, the MCS 7th graders completed the first phase of their Reaching Out Program.
The musicians among the group usually give a concert for the Sisters of Mercy, whose convent is attached to the Mater Christi middle school building. This year was no different. To an audience of 10 Sisters who live at Mt. St. Mary’s, the students presented a modified drumline, played some jazz, and performed violin, voice and piano solos. The Sisters expressed amazement at the talent exhibited by these 7th graders.
Other volunteer efforts included playing bingo with the residents at St. Joseph’s Home, making goulash, salad, and brownies at Spectrum, baking brownies and cupcakes at the Ronald McDonald House, cleaning at the King Street Youth Center, making posters and stuffing envelopes in COTS’ temporary quarters, cleaning vans and lockers at the Burlington Boys and Girls Club, and doing some outside work and stocking shelves at Joseph’s House. New sites this year were St. Joseph and Mount Calvary cemeteries where the students and teachers raked and picked up debris.
Each student goes to two different sites in one day, and this includes helping some of the MCS teachers of younger students in their classrooms.
Mater Christi faculty, staff and parents readily agree that this program is extremely valuable for the junior high students in that they get acquainted with the other non-profit agencies in Burlington and have the opportunity to learn new skills, problem solve, and interact with persons with whom they would not otherwise have the opportunity. It also serves to prepare these students to fulfill community service requirements in high school.
The Sisters of Mercy sponsor Mater Christi, a private Catholic school, with students from all faith traditions and coming from 25 towns and villages in northern Vermont.
Learn more in the Burlington Free Press’ April 14, 2016 article: Mater Christi marks day of service
Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life